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Southern African Development Community discusses Lesotho coup attempt

Posted on Sep 01 2014 | IANS

Pretoria, Sep 1 : The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Monday continued its meeting here on the attempted coup by Lesotho's military.

Present at the meeting were SADC Chairman and South African President Jacob Zuma, and foreign ministers of Zimbabwe and Namibia, Xinhua reported.

The meeting started Sunday night with the hope of finding a solution to the political unrest in the African country.

South Africa, which encircles Lesotho, has sent a strong warning to the Lesotho military that such unconstitutional change of government shall not be tolerated, according to Clayson Monyela, South African international relations and cooperation spokesman.

Lesotho Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who fled to South Africa before the military arrived at his home, and his rival Deputy Prime Minister Mothejoa Metsing were both in Pretoria to meet with Zuma and the SADC officials.

Thabane, accusing Metsing of launching the attempted coup, said the attempted coup was a ploy to overthrow him.

"The suspicion that there could be a coup was not totally unjustified. There were makings of a coup, but I think it was nipped in the bud and it is not going to take place," Thabane said.

"We are dealing with the situation in order to normalise it as quickly as possible."

On Saturday, the Lesotho military temporarily seized the police headquarters, the country's radio and television stations, arousing speculations of a coup.

One soldier and four police officers were injured during gunfire exchange between the police, largely loyal to Thabane, and the army, believed to be loyal to Metsing.

However, the army has denied staging a coup and said their actions Saturday were designed to prevent the police from arming political "fanatics".

Although the army has since been back to the barracks, the latest actions have further weakened the already fragile coalition government in the country.

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